Green beer and other traditions

Long Black Veil

Even though I don’t drink green beer, or indeed ANY beer, I find it necessary to note St. Patrick’s Day. As I’ve mentioned, I’m at least a quarter Irish. As Ancestry refines its processes, I become MORE Irish, 28%, in fact, as opposed to 19% Nigerian. 

This means, of course, that my mother’s father’s mother, Margaret Collins Williams (1865-1931), and her still unidentified parents, even if they were wholly Irish, are not my only ancestors from the Emerald Isle. I must have OTHER ancestors to find, including on my father’s side. Parent 1 is my mom, and Parent 2 is my dad. 

The Census Bureau is always useful in noting holidays, and this one is no exception. “Originally a religious holiday to honor St. Patrick, who introduced Christianity to Ireland in the 5th century, St. Patrick’s Day has evolved into a celebration of all things Irish.” 

Six years ago, I noted a group called The Burns Sisters out of Ithaca, NY. I was fascinated by them because their late father, John, was the mayor of Binghamton when I was growing up. He and his wife had twelve kids. Here are Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral and Prayer Of St. Francis.


I was very fond of the group The Chieftains. Kelly wrote about them a few times, including this farewell to Paddy Moloney. He links to other videos as well.

 But I decided to get really lazy and found something called Best of The Chieftains 2017, which has a YouTube chain of several videos. It includes most of the tracks from a 1995 album called Long Black Veil, which I love, and several from Irish Heartbeat, an album with Van Morrison that someone used to play in my office back in the day.  And there are a bunch of other songs. Did I mention that there were 250 videos?

Finally, I found this loud, raucous cut called Irish Blessing by a group called JOETOWN. 

Professional Irishman

Malachy McCourt, “who fled a melancholic childhood in Ireland for America, where he applied his blarney and brogue to become something of a professional Irishman as a thespian, a barkeep and a best-selling memoirist, died… in Manhattan. He was 92…

“In 1952, when he was 20, the Brooklyn-born Mr. McCourt reunited with New York.

“He embarked from Ireland with a ticket paid for with $200 in savings sent by his older brother, Frank McCourt, who had emigrated earlier and was working as a public school English teacher.” 

Redefining the DNA in me

It’s all Greek to me.

AncestryDNAStory-Roger-210920Once again, has updated its “most precise DNA update yet. In this latest update, you’ll notice that at least one of your previous regions has been split into two smaller, more precise regions. We’ve increased our precision this way in Europe, Africa, and Asia by updating our algorithm and expanding the size and diversity of the populations in our reference panel.”

What this means for me, most notably, is that Ireland and Scotland have split. I’m more Scottish than I imagine. It probably explains my affection for the Blackwatch color combination. If I were select a tartan, that’s what it would be.

Nigeria 25%
Ireland 25% – Munster, Ireland > West Cork> South West Cork> southwest Munster
Cameroon, Congo & Western Bantu Peoples 15%
Benin & Togo 7%
England & Northwestern Europe 7%
Senegal 7%
Scotland 6%
Mali 3%
Greece & Albania 1%
Norway 1%
Indigenous Americas—North 1%
Ivory Coast & Ghana 1%
Wales 1%
Sweden and Southern Bantu Peoples each less than 1%

The mild surprise is the first appearance of Greece and Albania on the list.

You may have noticed when you did your Census – I hope you completed yours! – that the race question additionally asked what particular geography you identify with. This was particularly interesting to my daughter, who selected the various strands of her background when we answered it way back in March.


Another aspect of the Ancestry report is that my people of African roots likely ended up in eastern North Carolina. It is actually a region east of an area from Virginia Beach, VA to Raleigh, NC to Myrtle Beach, SC. “You, and all the members of this community, are linked through shared ancestors. You probably have family who lived in this area for years—and maybe still do.”

This turns out to be quite true. Wilson, NC is about 50 miles east of Raleigh. It was the home of Raymond Cone, my biological grandfather, my father’s biological father. And the home of Willis Cone, Raymond’s father. At least four of the 10 closest relatives I have on Ancestry who were previously unknown to me are descended from Raymond Cone.


On September 29, I attended a ZOOM thing called Agitate!: Frederick Douglass and Ireland. Douglass wrote how he was “captivated” after attending a speech made by Daniel O’Connell, ‘The Liberator,’ in Dublin in 1845.

The event was sponsored by, among others, The African American Irish Diaspora Network, The Embassy of Ireland USA, Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University, Irish Network-DC, and University College Cork.

Learn about the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship. “Outstanding students of color” may “participate in a customized summer study abroad program focused on leadership and intercultural communication skills.”

Lydster: here comes the knight

one could

mountney-coat-of-arms-mountney-family-crest-7The tricky thing about redoing the family tree is to be representational. On one hand, I have this whole new biological tribe to represent. On the other, I don’t want to ignore the import of my non-biological grandfather McKinley Green.

As it turns out, has a mechanism by which one could change McKinley Green from grandparent to step-grandparent. Then one could add Raymond Cone as biological grandfather. And by “one could,” I mean my daughter could. Even when I read the instructions, nada. She did it in a couple of minutes.

Then she became a bit obsessed. Once you add a name on an Ancestry tree, it suggests Hints. Some verify what I already knew. Others are frustratingly unclear. Two different names of people with similar names but different dates, e.g. Was that guy a bigamist with wives with the same first name? That sort of thing.

But some Hints, usually coming from Census or other family trees, seem credible. And as she went further and further back on one strand of the Cone tree, the more people from England she found. And there were other Ancestry folks who were keeping track of them.

Ye Jolly Olde

William Garret “Garrard” Sir, Knight of Derby, Brickmason, Immigrated to Jamestown-1607(First ships)
B:1583 Derby, Leicestershire, England
D:1640 St Botolph Bishopsgate, London, England
That’s eleven generations back. And through his wife’s line, she got back to:

Thomas Mounsey V
Birth 31 JAN • Mountney Plain, Norfolk, England
Death 1573 • Mountney Plain, Norfolk, England
14th great-grandfather
I’m actually thinking it’s Thomas Mountney V from some hints – crests and, more importantly the geography – which suggests investigating even further. I’ll have to double check some of these, but wow.

My daughter worked on this for at least three hours straight. This in lieu of doing homework, I later discovered. The trick is that the more names you accept, the more Hints you’re provided. I had over 300 Hints when she started, and now there are over 600. It’s rather like an infectious disease.

And all of this on this brand new genealogical strand that I didn’t know about until extremely recently.

Raymond Cornelius Cone (1888-1947)

Son of Willis C Cone and the former Sarah Eatman

Undated photo

For reasons I shan’t get into now, I’ve become fairly obsessed figuring out the history of Raymond Cornelius Cone. He was likely born on 16 November 1888 in Wilson, Wilson County, North Carolina. I found references of him born as early as 1884 (unlikely) and as late as 1890.

His father was Willis C Cone, born in August 1837 in Nash, NC. Willis was the son of people identified only as Jacob and Charlotte. Raymond’s mother was the former Sarah Eatman, born in November 1850 in North Carolina. Willis and Sarah were married either in 1865 or, more likely, 26 October 1869 in Nash, NC. Willis died on 20 November 1918, Sarah on 5 February 1935, both in Wilson, NC.

Raymond has several siblings listed, although I don’t entirely trust the spellings. Kindred Cone(1871), Kincaid Cone(1873), Junius Cone (1875), William Cone (1877), female Joseph I. G. Cone(1880), Gertrude Lillie Cone (1885–1976), Jimerson Cone (1886–1963), male Avon Cone(1892), Willie M Cone (1893–1960), daughter Armincie (Amancy?) Cone (1897–1974), and male Rader (1899?).


Raymond Cone married Alina Hagans (b. 1891) on 1 Feb 1908 in Wilson, NC. The variations on the spelling both her first and last names is enormous: Allena Haggens, e.g. They had four children: Lessie (often shown as Leslie, b 1909 or 1910), Mary, Albert and Carl Lorenzo (b. 1915).

Allena Haggens died in 1918. In the 1920 Census, the kids were living with their maternal grandparents, Lawrence and Mary Haggens. The house also had other adult children, a son-in-law, and at least five other grandchildren. The house was in Gardner, Wilson County, North Carolina.

Off to Virginia

Where was the widowed Raymond Cornelius Cone, now 31 years old? In Norfolk Jefferson Ward, Norfolk (Independent City), Virginia on Chartworth Street. He was a lodger. His occupation: Solicitor in the photography industry. Household Members were Sarah J Quetrell, 60, Helen J Quetrell, 29, William James, 21 and Elsie L James, 21.

The 1930 U.S. Federal Population Census shows a surprising twist. Raymond Cone is shown to be married. His wife was Anna Petters, 33, her first trip down the aisle. They were married 26 August 1929 in the District of Columbia. They had a son, Billie Cone, who was 10 years old. Except for this Census, I can’t find Anna or Billie again.

They are living at 136 Washington in Delaware, Delaware County, Ohio. The record shows he was 29 at the age of his first marriage, which makes no sense. He would have been 20 or 21 when he married Allena. Raymond could read and write. He and his parent were born in North Carolina. He was now a minister in the A M E Church.

Skyscrapers and everything

The U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 for Raymond Cornelius Cone shows his residence as 163 Morningside Ave, New York, NY. Age 52. Born: Wilson, NC, Nov 18, 1888. Employer: Heard Memorial A.M.E. Church, 163 Morningside Ave. Person who knows where he is: Lessie McCain, 79 W 141st St NYC. That would be his oldest child, now also living in Manhattan.

The Manhattan, New York, City Directory, 1946 confirms the pastor’s information. Rev. Raymond C Cone. Street address: 163 Morningside Ave. It even had his phone number: MOnument 2-4533.

The front page of The New York Age, a black weekly, had a startling headline on its 13 December 1947″ Minister Found Dead In Church.” “Arriving for services Wednesday night, members of Heard Memorial Church… were nonplussed to find the doors locked.”

“However, knowing their pastor, the Rev. Raymond Cornelius Cone, 60, had been recently on a lecture trip in the South, they decided that he must have gone away again.

Call the cops

“Returning Sunday for the 11 o’clock services, the communicants found the doors still locked. They began thinking that something was wrong and summoned the police from the West 152nd Street station. A side door was forced and the minister was found dead in the rear of the church. “police said his death was due to a heart attack and that he had been dead several days. He was last seen alive by a parishioner on Monday.”

The piece notes that he was an AME minister and noted the four children that he had in North Carolina. At least three of them, including his two sons, made it to New York City as well. Carl Lorenzo Cone married Aurthetta Marie Baldwin in 1944 in NYC. He died in 1992 in Bronx, NY.

Would Raymond Cornelius Cone have ever left Wilson County had Allena Haggens lived longer? No way to know. Information gleaned from,, and And I’m not finished looking.

Ancestry DNA redux: Bantu, centimorgan

Do I have relatives in Munster, Ireland?

The very day I posted my DNA results from back in September, I got this:
“We’re always working to improve our DNA science and with more than 150 new regions, we’ve brought even more detail to your results.”

“This update may connect you to additional new regions or migration stories. It’s also possible that some of your previous regions have disappeared, as our data has become more precise. Either way, it’s an update that gives you a clearer picture of your origins than ever before.” They say my DNA hasn’t changed, but their understanding does. Compare with the last one:

So I’m part southern Bantu, which didn’t show up at all the first go round. I’m more from Benin/Togo. I’m more from Great Britain/Ireland, and there’s a potential familial lead in Munster, Ireland.

But I’m less Scandinavian, and less Nigerian. My Native American went from less than 1% to 1%, not exactly a telling statistic.

Meanwhile, they’ve added some additional information to the familial field. There’s some woman they’ve identified as my potential 2nd or 3rd cousin. “Shared DNA: 302 cM across 14 segments”. What the heck is a cM?

In genetics, a centimorgan (abbreviated cM) or map unit (m.u.) is a unit for measuring genetic linkage. It is defined as the distance between chromosome positions (also termed loci or markers) for which the expected average number of intervening chromosomal crossovers in a single generation is 0.01. It is often used to infer distance along a chromosome. However, it is not a true physical distance.”

Got it. OK, don’t “got it.” What? BTW, the person I know IRL who is my second cousin- Shared DNA: 250 cM across 17 segments. Lillian Bell Archer, is our common ancestor, our great-grandmother. Lillian is my mother’s mother’s mother.

As my cousin once said, “This is addicting stuff.” Will I share my DNA with greatness?

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